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2014 Kentucky Derby: Trending vs. Descending

California Chrome win circle 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers

 As always, we begin with the contenders that are Trending.

 

Califorinia Chrome  |  A. Sherman  |  V. Espinoza                                      Lucky Pulpit - Love the Chase by Not for Love                                                  Last: G2 San Felipe - 1st  Next: Santa Anita Derby                                                      50 Points 

  

California Chrome delivers. Coming into to the G2 San Felipe Stakes, the California bred colt was highly regarded in many 2014 Kentucky Derby rankings. This was despite his Juvenile season ending on such a sour note (6th G1 Del Mar Futurity, 6th in the Golden Gate Juvenile). Secondly, he was still considered a top contender even though he had zero Kentucky Derby points.

 

But, it was time for the San Felipe, a race where he would prove that he was every bit as good as many expected him to be. Nothing less than absolute domination from start to finish, California Chrome went wire to wire against one of the most talented field of 3-yr-olds we have seen so far.

 

So, it is time for the big questions. How much will California Chrome be trending now? Was this win enough to make him the number one contender overall? If not, then should he at least be number one out west over Candy Boy?

 

 Ring Weekend  |  G. Motion  |  D. Centeno                        Tapit - Free the Music by Cryptoclearance                          Last: G2 Tampa Bay Derby - 1st    Next: Undecided                 50 points

 

Hello, my name is Ring Weekend. Never heard of me? Well then, let me tell you why I’m trending. Prior to this weekend the KY bred gelding was unheard of for a reason. Trained by Graham Motion, Ring Weekend just recently broke his maiden. It was February 8 at Gulfstream Park and his fifth MSW attempt where he finally got over the hump and made it to the winners circle for the very first time.

 

He must have really liked it. Faced with overcoming 14-1 odds and a field that included three highly rated Kentucky Derby contenders, Ring Weekend broke from the gate, went straight to the lead and never looked back in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby. Although he didn’t have a close challenger, like California Chrome did, his wire to wire win was just as impressive. And so, from the depths of the unknown to the Kentucky Derby, Ring Weekend has arrived.

 

Grade 2 Rebel Stakes


The only Kentucky Derby Qualification race this coming weekend will be the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oak Lawn. Of all the prep races so far, this one deserves to have the spotlight all to itself. With the defection of Bayern from the San Felipe due to minor injury, I think this race now has the most talented 3-yr-olds so far.

 

And yes, even though Honor Code is not running in the Rebel I still think so. We’re going to be talking about this race all week so it’s definitely trending. How could it not be, you’ve read about these contenders quite a bit too, right: Strong Mandate, Tapiture, Kobe’s Back, Ride on Curlin

 

Strong Mandate and Tapiture are the top two but you won’t be able to discount the others so easily. And, who’s to say the next Ring Weekend isn’t lingering?


Also Trending

 

Vinceremos – He couldn’t catch Ring Weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby but the runner up earned 20 points and he is preparing nicely for his next Kentucky Derby prep. He may need a good effort, and more points, to qualify but he’s trending in that direction.

 

Honor Code – The long wait is over, Honor Code is expected to make his 3-yr-old debut at Gulfstream Park this week; 1 1/16 mile allowance race in the 8th race on Wednesday. If all goes well his qualification for the Kentucky Derby will be decided next time out in either the Wood Memorial or Florida Derby.

 

Unfortunately the Derby trail is not always so kind. So, we shift to the hopefuls that are Descending.

 

  Conquest Titan  |  M. Casse  |  S. Bridgmohan             Birdstone - Miner's Secret by Mineshaft                               Last: G2 Tampa Bay Derby - 4th   Next: Undecided                 9 Points

 

How can I not put him into this category? Highly regarded, big expectations in the Tampa Bay Derby, he did not deliver and now he’s on the bubble. The poor performance is by no means the end of his Kentucky Derby hopes but now Conquest Titan faces the proverbial challenge: next race decides your Kentucky Derby fate.

 

Prior to the TB Derby his runner up finish in the Holy Bull had him at 4 points. After a 4th place finish Conquest Titan only jumped 5 points to land at a very uninspiring number; 9 points. I’m not certain where trainer Mark Casse will send him next but no matter where it is he will need to finish in the top three in order to keep his derby hopes alive. If it is the Florida Derby then there will be absolutely zero room for error as another 4th place finish and only 10 points (19 total) is not likely to be enough in 2014.

 

 Bond Holder  |  D'Oneill  |  M. Gutierrez                    Mineshaft  -  Cielo Girl by Conquistador Cielo                        Last: G1 CashCall Futuriy - 4th    Next: Undecided                11 Points

 

It’s been a very tough season thus far for the Doug O’Neill colt. Bond Holder did not make it into the Trending vs. Descending edition last week due to his potential start in the Tampa Bay Derby. However, he wasn’t ready and he has now missed two consecutive starts.

 

The decline began when he suffered a minor injury en route to the Fair Grounds for the G2 Risen Star Stakes. The decision was then made to send him down to Tampa Bay Downs as opposed to flying back to California for the G2 San Felipe Stakes. However, recovery stalled and Bond Holder was withdrawn from the Tampa Bay Derby. So, the winner of the G1 Frontrunner Stakes is stuck at 11 points and without a race in the 3-yr-old season. The outlook isn’t good as the foot problem isn’t getting better. Nothing is official but more than likely the bubble has burst and there will be no Kentucky Derby for Bond Holder.

 

 Bayern  |  B. Baffert  |  G. Stevens                                  Offlee Wild  -  Alittlebitearly by Thunder Gulch                    Last: 1 Mile Allowance - 1st    Next: Undecided                       0 Points

 

Yes, he is descending but maybe it’s only a minor decline before he recovers and catapults his way into the Kentucky Derby field. Doable but it is not nearly as easy as it sounds.

 

Unproven coming into 2014 because he did not race as a Juvenile, Bayern quickly got our attention with back to back scores at Santa Anita in January and February. From there Trainer Bob Baffert easily had him ready for graded stakes action and the San Felipe Stakes. However, a bruised quarter led to him being scratched and Bayern will now rest/recover for a better day.

 

But, time is running out with zero points to your name. The Santa Anita Derby or Arkansas Derby will require a first or second place finish in order qualify. Again, everything is doable but this colt with a pedigree tied to the 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch still faces a more challenging road than he did just 1 week ago.

 

Trending or Descending?

 

Midnight Hawk - He disappointed Bob Baffert in the San Felipe but he now has 32 points and a probable ticket to the Kentucky Derby. So, he’s trending? And that’s where I’m stumped because maybe he is or maybe he’s really not. Does he have the distance for the Kentucky Derby? And that’s the big question because if he doesn’t I don’t believe Baffert will send him to Churchill Downs.

 

Off the Derby Trail

 

Bond Holder isn’t here officially but as of Saturday morning Top Billing is now on this list. A cracked cannon bone in his right front leg was discovered after breezing at on Saturday morning. Trainer Shug McGaughey says however that the long range prognosis is good. So, as unfortunate as the injury is, hopefully we will see Top Billing return to racing later this year.

 

 

 

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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Trending vs. Descending...

it usually takes three successive contests to see a form reversal. TOO much is made of a single or even double failurer (a la our recent form cycle of the Dude), Wait until it shows a trend before attibuting anything to an animal's chances long term
Trainer Mark Casse, Conquest Titan will enter the Arkansas Derby
Andy i am really surprised that the track actually let 4 others run in the race. But at least it is not a complte shamble.The #1 is actually a race horse. Unless of course Shug is giving the riding assignments on all the horses in the race. Sorry for being so skeptical.
Ah, what a difference a day makes...
Looking forward to Honor Code's debut on Wednesday.

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